It was an ordinary self-care Saturday. I started pretty early with a fresh, thick pre-roll (hybrid, xxx og), and I’m making myself something the overweight eleven year-old Yaz would’ve killed for like, some chocolate chip pancakes with tons of whipped cream and bacon. Except now, I’m almost thirty and I have a “wheat intolerance." So, it’s gluten-free, chocolate chip, protein pancakes with a little bit of coconut whipped cream and a couple of slices of fresh cut bacon from the farmer’s market (if self-care Saturday just so happens to land on a holiday like Christmas or Easter). This is what being an adult looks like, kids! The wildest part is, I actually enjoy it. Finally, self-care Saturday isn’t complete without a circulation of playlist after playlist. Toggling between Apple Music to Spotify, then Soundcloud and maybe a scroll through a music blog like BrooklynVegan or P&P, and so on. Weed + pancakes + music = the perfect trifecta--the holy trinity, if you will.
While I’m meandering around trying to catch the vibe, the weed begins to take effect, and I organically gravitate to the genre that potheads everywhere love--Reggae. I landed on Spotify’s Chilled Reggae playlist and, *chef kiss.* I dig it. It’s a vibe, for sure. It has some of my faves like, Popcaan’s “Everything Is Nice," and classics like Ken Boothe’s rendition of “Ain’t No Sunshine." I highly recommend it, if you’re trying to just. Chill. The. Fuck. Out. Then, this song comes on, and it’s incredible. Starting with a short drum intro into the slow, offbeat rhythms that makes reggae, reggae, it’s soon filled with sweet, breathy sighs echoing off the beat. Pause. Who does that anymore? A disco era intro that immediately evoke Donna Summers, sex, gold, and blaxploitation films. Instantly I’m thinking, who is the icon?
Her name is Sevana. She’s a Jamaican artist, model, and actress. A total triple-threat. The song, “If You Only Knew," is a beautiful blend of reggae, R&B, funk, and soul, that celebrates #BlackLove and the lengths at which a person is willing to go for love. It’s like riding a wave of honey with the catchiest hook of all time, high-key:
Iiiif you only knew-ew-ew babe
Iiiif you only knew-ew-ew babe
If you only knew-ew-ew babe, how far I’d go for you
The song was released as a single about a month ago just a few weeks ahead of her sophomore EP Be Somebody, which is bomb! But before I dive into BS, understand that Sevana has been making music for several years now--I’m just hella late. Back in 2017, local Jamaican newspaper, The Gleaner (the oldest newspaper publication in the western hemisphere, btw), did a profile on Sevana. She made her musical debut in 2010 in a band with two friends called SLR. They appeared on a televised talent show, Digicel Rising Stars, and made it to the top ten. That’s when she realized music was her gift essentially, and I am eternally grateful. After committing to music fully, she was discovered by popular Jamaican reggae singer, Protoje and signed with his label In.Digg.Nation in 2014. With a mission to bring classic reggae to contemporary streamers, his label announced in April that it had made a new deal with RCA Records. Along with his own music, Protoje's two signees Lila Iké (who's also really amazing) and Sevana are now releasing music under this deal. Making new, contemporary reggae more globally accessible to listeners like us.
Be Somebody consists of six tracks with Sevana credited for writing on each of them. I urge you to definitely go listen to this album immediately. I felt awakened, like someone read my entire soul. I get that’s a lot, and you may have a different experience, but I promise you it will still be lit either way. The title track, “Be Somebody," instantly brought me back to car rides home from some family function, and my mom has the station turned to V103 because it’s her listening hours (B96, KISS, and Power92 were reserved for schooldays only). “Be Somebody” has this oldies R&B vibe that reminds me of Xscape mixed with Sade and a dash of Anita Baker. From there it’s a journey through the tides of life. The album ebbs & flows through the emotions of trying to just be in this world, and the struggle to literally “be somebody”. Choosing to stay in it, and show up all the time, it’s hard. I relate to that, HEAVY. Having a passion & a gift, and wanting to service it, but at the same time having to be honest with yourself that it’s not always fun. Sometimes it’s a fucking chore. This sentiment begins to really hit home for me with “Phone A Friend” where the hook is really like this tantric mantra that goes: I must be honest, I don’t like this. However, the tide changes direction and we slip into a more up-tempo song, “Mango," about finally finding that sweet kind of romance with a partner that isn’t like all the other time-wasters--someone who is patient, intelligent, and kind. Remaining in this moment of bliss we transition to “Blessed," a gospel-driven joint produced by rising dancehall and R&B producer, Izybeats. With the help of accompanying brass, “Blessed” brightens the spirit and serves as a reminder that despite it all, we’re still blessed and called to service these gifts we’ve been given even when, *Cardi B voice*, shit is getting real. Finally we get to the single that brought me here in the first place, “If You Only Knew," and conclude with “Set Me On Fire," a sexy, sweeping track about a toxic love affair that is pushed to the brink of destruction. I see it as a metaphor for the things or people in life that don’t support your passion and at some point there’s this showdown--you or me. Who’s it going to be? Because you can either let that energy destroy you, or let it fuel the fire within you to continue moving on.
In short, Sevana is dope, which also feels like an understatement because I have been fiercely recommending her to everyone I talk to. She’s definitely a standout in the contemporary reggae space, and I can't wait to hear more from her. Check out Sevana's latest EP, Be Somebody on Spotify, Apple Music, or wherever you listen to music, and get at me! I'd love to hear what you think. xx
Meet Columnist Yasmin Morris
Raised on deep dish pizza, musical theater, the Bulls, and plenty of Motown, Rock & Roll, Hip Hop and, of course, Jazz, Yasmin (pronounced Yaz-meen, aka Yaz) gained a unique passion for music from an early age thanks to the best parents in the world who dragged her to every musical, concert, and jazz club that was easy to sneak a child into (being an only child has its perks!). After spending many years writing for herself, Yaz is excited to have the opportunity to join the Kingdom of Pavement family, and share her passion for music & discovering new artists with a wider community of music snobs (it’s okay, embrace it). Her column, Purple Coast, features profiles on new exciting artists + trends, a rotating playlist, and plenty dope discussions within the world of music and live entertainment. Follow Yasmin on Instagram @YazFelice.